Scranton received a $352,500 state grant on Aug. 29, 2019 for en

A vacant lot at Wyoming Avenue at Linden Street in downtown Scranton will be converted this year into a pocket park.

After nearly a year of working through the challenges of everyday life, and business, during a global pandemic, we’re eager to resume some of the exciting projects that were delayed last year due to COVID-19. This includes two important economic revitalization projects: development of a pocket park in the downtown Scranton business district, and the completion of our master plan.

In 2019, we announced plans to transform the vacant lot on the corner of Linden Street and Wyoming Avenue into much-needed greenspace in the downtown business district. The project is the result of a partnership between Scranton Tomorrow, the city of Scranton and Lackawanna County.

Designed with the community in mind, the new greenspace will feature tables and benches ideal for lunch breaks, a small event space, and play areas for children. The park will be landscaped with trees and shrubbery, pavers, planted areas and tree boxes, highlighting the natural beauty of the region. Remediation of the site, which formerly housed a dry cleaner, was halted last year due to the pandemic. We’re pleased the site is scheduled for remediation this year, paving the way for design and construction.

This project is made possible through a $400,000 Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Keystone Community grant. The park is slated to open by the end of this year.

Development of the pocket park correlates well with the preliminary recommendations Reilly Associates outlined in the master plan for the business District. The plan will identify opportunities for developments and improvements in the downtown through an assessment of the area’s assets, economic drivers, streetscapes, open spaces, modes of transportation and parking.

Revitalization in the downtown has already been sparked by the growth of educational institutions, including the University of Scranton, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and Lackawanna College. An upward trend in downtown living is also promising as historic commercial and industrial buildings are transformed into upscale residences, boutiques and restaurants. We aspire to build upon the momentum we’ve gained in these areas, as we create a brand for our downtown and invest in our economic future. Our master plan will guide us through this process, while also identifying the hidden downtown gems that are underutilized.

We’re also pleased to announce a new project that will serve everyone in the community: the Scranton Tomorrow Mural Arts Program. Rose Randazzo will lead the project under the direction of Steve Ward, team leader of Scranton Tomorrow’s safe, clean, green and design committee. In addition to installing murals along high-traffic corridors in the business district, guidelines will be developed for future public art projects to encourage conservation of public art, and increase the longevity of the city’s murals. The program is designed to enhance our region’s quality of life, build a sense of community, preserve our historic integrity, and create a welcoming and walkable downtown.

With a focus on supporting the healthy economy of local businesses, our business development committee will continue to meet quarterly to brainstorm, plan, and execute a vision to develop new traditions for the business district. We will also continue to develop and refine online directories for shopping, dining, personal care, health and wellness and professional services in downtown Scranton. We’re creating these guides on our website at at no charge to the businesses listed as a service to the business community during COVID-19. This is just one way in which we will continue to promote support local efforts this year.

Leslie Collins is the Executive Director of Scranton Tomorrow, a community nonprofit group.

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